Faith from Beginning to End

September 19, 2021 Preacher: Luis A. Cardenas Series: First Peter

Topic: English Passage: 1 Peter 5:10-11

Those of you who read and discusses Romans 1 this past week will likely remember that the end of the chapter describes the downward spiral of a culture that lives in rebellion to God. It ends with a people enslaved to their desires and given over to a depraved mind. The beginning of that spiral is described in verse 21, where it says: although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him.

The fundamental rebellion of this world is to ignore, or to forget, who God is and the honor that is due Him. And while we as Christians should recognize that error in the world, we also need to guard against it in our own lives. Honoring God and giving Him thanks is not automatic.

At the end of Galatians 1, Paul is describing his conversion and the reaction of the people, and he writes, “They glorified God because of me.

It’s such a simple phrase, but there’s a sentiment there that is completely lacking in the world and even among so-called Christian pastors and churches. In churches and pastors who are famous and known for being cool, Christianity has been reduced to a lifestyle brand. It’s seen simply as a movement and a set of values and attitudes that you get to identify with.

That’s really the big way to market nowadays. You don’t just make good products; you make your brand a lifestyle. You create an identity, and you invite consumers to adopt that lifestyle by buying your product.

In the end, it’s really a way of catering to the selfishness of a person. That’s what makes it sell. People love themselves, so they love products that help them make more of themselves. They love stuff they can take pictures of and post online for the world to see and marvel.

So, if a church and a pastor does the same thing, instead of “They glorified God because of me,” you get, “They glorified me because of God.” A lot of the elements are the same, but there’s been a monumental shift. This life is no longer aimed at Jesus Christ. It’s aimed at you. It’s aimed at the individual. And that’s not what Christianity is supposed to be.

This is what Peter helps remind us about as he’s wrapping up this letter. There are amazing benefits and blessings to following Jesus Christ, and there is also pain that will come as a result. This life is a battle. But whether in pain or in joy, you need to remember that the focal point of all this is not you, and it’s not me. It’s not even the church. The focus of human history is the glory of God in Jesus Christ.

You need to remember God is the One who started this, and God is the One who is going to finish it. That’s true on a cosmic level, and it’s true on a personal level as well. He is the One who gets the glory. The God who made you and who redeemed you will complete His plan for you in Christ.

I’m sure a lot of you are familiar with the words of the Apostle Paul: “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

The message there isn’t, “You can do this. You are going to get through this!” The message there is, “God will get you through this. God will be faithful to finish what He started.” It might sound like a minor shift, but it’s not.

You and I are either going to have a theology and a worldview and a Christianity that is God-centered, or one that is man-centered. From beginning to end, our faith needs to be centered and focused on God. And in these two verses, Peter helps us focus on the beginning and the end of our faith.

Let’s talk for a moment about the beginning of faith. When someone comes to faith, one of the theological terms we use is justification.

Justification is the act of God declaring someone to be righteous. It doesn’t mean they didn’t do anything wrong, and it doesn’t mean they magically become righteous. It means they’ve been declared innocent. And that happens because by grace through faith through a person’s union with Christ.

His death on the cross pays the price of their sin. And Jesus’ victory over sin and death in the Resurrection gets credited to person who trusts in Him. Again, justification is the act of being declared righteous by God. It’s the instantaneous and eternal judicial forgiveness of God.

Now, behind that forensic, or legal, transaction, we need to make sure we don’t lose sight of God’s role. God is not simply reacting to someone’s faith. He is the One who brought it into being. And that happened by His grace. For those of you who have trusted in Christ and have been forgiven of your sin, that happened because of the grace of God. That’s why, here in verse 10, Peter calls Him “the God of all grace.”

Grace, as many have said, means “unmerited favor.” It’s something beneficial that you don’t deserve. God is the source of grace, and He is the giver of grace. In His eternal grace, Peter says, He has called you to His eternal glory in Christ. That was the beginning of your spiritual journey. That was the moment God gave you spiritual life.

In the Bible, the word “calling,” isn’t a reference to being a pastor, it’s a reference to coming to salvation. It’s what theologians refer to as God’s effectual call. He sovereignly brought you to salvation.

Some people think of sin as a high wall between you and God, and salvation is the ladder God gives you that enables you to get over the wall. But that’s not how the Bible puts it. From the perspective of human experience, we do make a choice; we decide to follow Christ. But behind that, in the divine perspective, we made that choice because God made His choice. He chose to call us to Himself.

Jesus repeatedly referred to true believers as those whom the Father gave Him. For example, in John 6:39, He says: this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me.

And then later in verse 44, Jesus says: No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.

Then in verse 65, Jesus repeats the idea: no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.

The word “draw” that Jesus used means to move something by an outside force. It could be translated as “hauling” or “dragging.” In the case of our faith, it’s not a pulling against our will, it’s a transformation of our will so that we are compelled to come to God through Jesus Christ. Apart from the work of God, we would not come to Jesus Christ.

The barrier between you (and your sin) and a holy God is not a wall you can climb over. It’s an infinite chasm. And you can’t cross over. Ephesians 2 says you were dead in your sins. None of us seeks after God on our own. Your only response to truth was to ignore, or to distort, or to reject the message. And that was my response too. We were blinded by Satan and enslaved to him.

But Colossians 1:13 tells us, God has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

The beginning of your faith was an act of infinite grace.

Now, forgiveness of sin is not the goal of salvation. Okay? I’ll say that again. The goal of salvation is NOT the forgiveness of sin. If we ended there, it would be a man-centered gospel.

Forgiveness is a means, not an end. Forgiveness is the way you accomplish a bigger goal. What’s the end? What’s the goal?

Well, Peter points us to that goal in verse 10 when talking about our salvation. God called us to His eternal glory in Christ. You were saved, not so you could simply feel better about yourself, not simply so that your sins could be forgiven. You were saved so that you could take in and take part in God’s eternal glory. That’s the goal of salvation. That’s the heart behind the grace of God. You were saved FOR HIM.

It wasn’t that God looked down on us miserable sinners and He felt so badly for us that He was compelled to save us from hell. No, God looked down on sinners, and were were children of wrath headed to eternal condemnation. That’s the language of Ephesians 2. But, to the fullness of His glory, God chose to save some. Rather than simply glorify Himself in their righteous condemnation, God glorifies Himself by demonstrating compassion and mercy and by calling sinners to Himself, so that they would become one with Him.

You weren’t forgiven just to say you were forgiven. You were forgiven so that you would be adopted as a child of God. And as a child of God, you partake now and will partake eternally in the glory of God.

Second Peter 1:4 says we have become partakers of the divine nature. There’s something about who God is that we get to be a part of. We don’t get absorbed into God, and we don’t become our own god. But we enter into something which God possesses.

There’s some mystery there, but one helpful way to understand this is to look at Jesus’ prayer in John 17. At the beginning of that prayer Jesus said this. This is from verse 5: Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

After His death and Resurrection, Jesus was expecting to go back to the Father and be glorified with Him, like He was in eternity past. But that’s not Jesus’ only expectation.

Verse 22 says: The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one.

And then verse 24 says: Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.

Again, there’s is an element of mystery here, but the result of our salvation is that we enter into the glory and love which the Father and the Son have enjoyed for all eternity. We become part of that family. And it’s because of God’s grace.

So, jumping back to our passage for today, that’s part of the reminder Peter gives us about the beginning of our faith. The God of all grace called you to His eternal glory in Christ. That was the beginning of your faith.

And the God who called you to that will be faithful to complete what He began.

Right now, Peter says, we are going to suffer a little. Peter isn’t downplaying the pains of this life, but he’s helping us set that pain in the context of eternity, in the context of our destiny. He’s ending his letter the same way he started back in chapter 1, verse 6. This is only for a little while.

Your struggle against Satan, your struggle against this world and against your sin, and in this weak, mortal body is only temporary.

What is it that comes next? What’s the end of all this? We’ve been saying this over and over as we’ve been studying the letter. In the end, the people of Christ win. We have the final victory because of Jesus Christ. Let’s look now at the end of our faith.

Did you know a day will come when your faith ends? For some, their faith ends in unbelief. It’s not authentic faith, but it’s fake faith, and it ends. But even for us who truly have trusted in Jesus Christ, our faith will end because we will see Christ with our own eyes. And at that point, it won’t be faith anymore; it’ll be sight. You will see it all for yourself.

Being declared righteous by God is called justification. And growing in holiness and faith is called sanctification. The end of this phase of the journey, however, is known as glorification. You receive the glory of Jesus Christ. You are delivered from this body of death.

And here is how Peter describes it at the end of verse 10. God will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

Before we look at this list, I want to remind you that the verbs here are active, not passive. An active verb is when someone does something. A passive verb is when someone has something done to them. So “I killed” is active, but “I was killed” is passive.

Peter doesn’t use the passive voice here. He doesn’t say “You’ll be restored and confirmed and strengthen and established.” As important as these words are, the focus is not you and me. The focus is the mercy and compassion and power and faithfulness of our God. He Himself will do these things. From start to end, He does it all.

I don’t think Peter is trying to make a clear distinction between what God is going to do at the end of all this. Peter is piling on the synonyms so that we would be inundated with the greatness of God and His goodness toward us.

He did the same thing in chapter one when He said our inheritance is imperishable and undefiled and unfading and reserved for us by God’s power.

At the end of all this, God Himself will personally restore you and confirm you and strengthen you and establish you.

There is so much wrong in your life, right? We have problems externally and internally. We see and feel evidence of sin every day. We understand our weakness and our failings before a gracious heavenly Father.

But whatever is broken in your life, whatever is missing, whatever lacking, God Himself will complete it. Unbelief, doubt, selfishness—each and every shortcoming, whether you know about it or not, will fade away. In the end, you will be like Christ, perfectly free from sin.

Right now, we are assaulted every day by a sinful world and by the sin in our own hearts. And like Paul, we cry out, “Who will set me free from this body of death?!” God Himself will set you free. God Himself will make it so that you are perfectly established and confirmed and strengthened in Him. You will not be shaken anymore. You will stand in glory. God will make it so.

I see a simple verse like this, and I wonder how anyone could ever doubt that salvation could be lost. It can’t. If God saved you, you belong to Him. He will finish what He started.

You can’t save yourself, and you can’t un-save yourself. You have been sealed with the Holy Spirit. That’s a promise of future inheritance. Nothing can separate you from the love of God in Christ.

If you truly belong to Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd will faithfully lead you to the end. Again, listen to the words of Jesus in John 6, this time from verses 39 and 40: This is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.

Here’s how Paul says it in Romans 8:29-30: For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

Theologically this is sometimes called “the perseverance of the saints.” That title is a reference to the human side of salvation. Everyone who truly receives Christ will endure. But the divine side to that is “the preservation of the saints.” God preserves all who belong to them. He upholds their faith.

You need to have that confidence in a world that is filled with uncertainty. You plan for retirement, but you don’t know if you’re going to live that long. You parent your kids, but you don’t know if they’re going to come to faith. There are so many aspect of life where we don’t know how of it it’s going to work out. But not in regard to our faith.

Yes, we are bombarded and rejected by a sinful world. Yes, we fail so many times. Yes, we give in to Satan rather than resisting Him. But that’s all temporary. God sustains us, and in the end, He Himself will complete what he began. And He does it all for His glory.

When God, through the prophet Isaiah promised to save the people, listen to how He said it. This is from Isaiah 43:25—I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake.

And then, in 48:9, He says: For my name's sake I defer my anger; for the sake of my praise I restrain it for you, that I may not cut you off. 10Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction. 11For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another.

Our God saves and sustains and restores His people for the sake of His own name.

And so, meditating on the fact the God both begins and sustains our faith to the end, Peter ends fittingly with a doxology. It’s a praise.

Verse 11—To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Maybe you’d expect the word “glory” there. That’s what Paul says in Romans 11:36—For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

But Peter’s focus here is on the dominion of our God. That’s talking about His power, His might. He will defeat our enemy the devil and He will give us the victory. The power of God on display in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and on display in the salvation of sinners, will be on display when he subjects all things to Himself and when transforms our humble, fallen, sinful bodies to be like His glorious body forever.

We serve a powerful and faithful God. To Him be the dominion and the glory forever. That will be our praise for eternity to the Father and the Lamb. Like Revelation 19:1 says: Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God.

More in First Peter

September 26, 2021

Greet One Another in Love

September 12, 2021

Aware of Our Enemy

September 5, 2021

Humbled before a Caring God